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Ethical Dilemma #1
You are the newly appointed personnel director for a large beverage distributor.
Your new job responsibilities include screening all applicants for promotions to
management positions. Your companys usual procedure is for the personnel director to
screen applicants and select the top three for further interviews with management. You
also know that the president of the company does not want a woman on his personal
staff. Your current decision is difficult because your most recent vacancy is on the
presidents personal staff and your top three applicants are female. You can send the
three applicants to the president and wait to see what happens. You can rethink your
selection criteria and try to have a male applicant in the top three. You can reopen the
position, hoping to attract additional qualified applicants. You can confront the president
about his discriminatory posture. You also have other options.
What would you do? Why?
As the newly appointed personnel director, the first decision I would make
regarding this situation would be to keep the top three female applicants. Regardless of
gender, the applicants who have the best experience, skills, and work ethic that align
with the selection criteria deserve a chance at the management position. It would not be
fair to change the selection criteria solely to find a male applicant to please the
president and take the opportunity away from a well-qualified applicant, especially
without trying to advocate for them first.
The first step I would take to ensuring that each applicant has a fair chance at the
position would be to have a preliminary meeting with the president before sending him
the names of the applicants. I would use this meeting to introduce and discuss
applicants without ever mentioning their name, race, or gender. I would highlight their
resumes, qualifications, experiences, skills, overall impression, and what I feel they
could do for the company at a management level. This meeting would help to frame the
applicants in a very positive and productive light through a blind screening process. It
should help the president to see them in an objective way and focus on what they bring
to the table, rather than other factors.

The next step I would take would be to send the three applicants to the president
after the meeting labeled Applicant 1, Applicant 2, and Applicant 3, masking
demographic information, and wait to see what he says about them and what he
decides. This would continue to make the process fair and help the president eliminate
gender bias in his decision.
The final step I would take would be contingent on the presidents decision. The
following are a list of possible decisions he could make and how I would respond
If he selects one of the three female applicants
My job in this specific scenario would be done. The new candidate was selected
in a fair and unbiased way, and the president successfully ignored his own personal
gender bias for the good and the ethical standards of the company. I would continue to
implement the blind screening process without names or demographic information in
future hiring situations. I would also begin to create specific materials for upper
management to use when making fair, ethical hiring decisions and adopt the Society for
Human Resource Management (SHRM) Code of Ethics to avoid a similar situation in
the future.
If he refuses to select one of them without their names and their demographic
information, or asks to reopen the position for applications
First, I would ask for a detailed explanation of why that information is relevant to
the decision. Each candidate had ample amount of experiences and skills that made
them a good fit based on the selection criteria. What would that information add to your
decision process?
Second, I would ask him why the position needs to be reopened for applications.
What other qualities would an applicant need to possess that these three are missing to
be successful in the position? Based on the selection criteria already established for the
role, all three candidates meet and exceed those expectations. If there needs to be
another round of applicants, what additional information do I need to look for?

Finally, I would put together a fact sheet for hiring to give to the president and all
other upper management employees who play a role in the hiring process. It would
break down the companys missions and values that favor hard work and good
experience over gender or other bias information, key characteristics to look for (work
ethic, experiences, education, skills, etc.), and include a brief summary of the laws in
place that address discrimination against women or any other category of people in the
workplace. This would serve to remind the president and the rest of the company that
the hiring decision is meant to be based on legitimate qualifications, not demographic
information. It will tie it back to the roots of the organization and the law to point out the
seriousness and importance of the issue moving forward. I would also include a copy of
the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) Code of Ethics to each upper
management employee for reference. These actions should help the president
reevaluate his decision and select one of the three female candidates in a fair way.
If he refuses to select one of the candidates and mentions the relevance of gender in
his decision
First, I would arrange a meeting with the president to be able to talk to him about
the following:

Previous situations where women have contributed greatly to our company in

management roles

Company values and mission that encourage women and diverse people in
general to hold management positions

The laws in place that address discrimination against women in the workplace
that the company is required to follow

Ask him to reconsider his choice without gender as a factor

Second, I would create and distribute the fact sheet mentioned previously to the

president and all upper management involved in the hiring process. This would serve to
remind the president and the rest of the company that the hiring decision is meant to be
based on legitimate qualifications, not demographic information. It will tie it back to the
roots of the organization and the law to point out the seriousness and importance of the
issue moving forward.

Finally, I would implement and adopt the Society for Human Resource
Management (SHRM) Code of Ethics for the hiring process at the company. Everyone
would be given a copy to understand his or her ethical obligations in terms of hiring. The
Fairness and Justice section would be emphasized, specifically. If after all of these
steps, the president still will not make a hiring decision that is fair, I could consult with
other upper management employees to have him removed or take legal action against
him through the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) laws that are in
What criteria did you use in applying ethical standards?
The following are the criteria I used to apply ethical standards to the decisions made for
this situation:
-Theory of Justice
-Feminist Theory
-SHRM Code of Ethics
-Ethical Communication
Values can be defined as the subjective assessments made about the relative
worth of a quality or object. They are connected to ethics as they influence what we will
determine to be ethical. Values play many different roles within this situation. The
presidents individual values could lead him to refuse to hire a female manager based
on gender alone. As part of the solution to the ethical dilemma, its important to stress to
him the values of the organization that would expect him to act differently and do what is
best for the company. Additionally, my own personal values helped me make this
decision. When it comes to employment, the most qualified candidates that bring
positive experiences and skills to the table should have a chance to get the job. I value
fair opportunity and hard work, and I think in my role as personnel director I would

embody those same values and fight for the three females to be considered for the
Theory of Justice
The Theory of Justice says that all decision makers need to be guided by
fairness, impartiality, and equity for their actions to be considered ethical. Specifically, it
requires that the treatment of individuals not be based on arbitrary characteristics, like
gender, and any differential treatment should be defendable. The decision made for this
situation was heavily guided by the theory of justice. As personnel director, I exhibited
fairness and impartiality by letting the three most qualified candidates move on and
presenting them in an unbiased way to the president. If the president decides he does
not want one of them or demands arbitrary information, I ask for an explanation and
give the president an opportunity to defend his answer that exhibits fairness and
impartiality. If he does not immediately make the ethical decision or have a fair reason
for his decision, I continue to be guided by fairness in my next steps. I bring light to the
situation through creating a fact sheet that discusses fair hiring practices and adopting a
code of ethics for hiring decisions. As personnel director, I continue to deal with the
issue until everyone in upper management, including the president, becomes decision
makers guided by fairness, impartiality, and equity.
Feminist Theory
Feminist Theory focuses on the marginalization and domination of women in the
workplace and the valuing of diverse voices. Every decision made in this solution is
rooted in feminist theory and focused on providing women fair opportunity in the
workplace. It challenges the presidents bias against women and strives to provide them
equal treatment through blind screening of candidates. It speaks out against limiting
women to their gender or other characteristics that have no relevance to the job
description by not simply looking for other male candidates. It continues to push for the
future success of women in the workplace by creating a fact sheet to steer upper
management away from bias, adopting a well-respected code of ethics, and using
examples of successful women in the company.

Under the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the law
forbids discrimination in almost every aspect of employment. Under the Application and
Hiring section, specifically, it states that it is illegal for any employer to discriminate
against a job applicant because of his or her race, color, religion, sex (including gender
identity, sexual orientation, and pregnancy), national origin, age, disability, or genetic
information. This law is important because these are standards that all companies need
to follow. Ultimately, laws fall into place because there is a universal ethical problem
with a situation that is important enough to require legislation. The law was used as
criteria for applying ethical standards to the case because it shows the seriousness of
the choice the president makes and requires not only ethical, but legal compliance. This
is something that every member of an organization involved in a hiring process should
be aware of and abide by.
SHRM Code of Ethics
Similar to the Theory of Justice, the Society for Human Resource Management
(SHRM) Code of Ethics emphasizes high standards of ethical and professional
behavior. One of its main components is a section on fairness and justice. Some of the
specific, relevant lines include:

Treat people with dignity, respect, and compassion to foster a trusting

work environment free of harassment, intimidation, and unlawful

Ensure that everyone has the opportunity to develop their skills and new

Regardless of personal interest, support decisions made by our

organization that are both ethical and legal

The decision made for this situation embodies the ideas within the SHRM Code of
Ethics. It treats each candidate with respect, free of unlawful discrimination by not
disclosing irrelevant demographic information and focusing on skills and experiences. It
ensures that they each have the opportunity to obtain a management position at the
company. It forces the president to acknowledge his bias toward women and make an
ethical and legal hiring decision. It even goes as far to adopt the entire code of ethics for
future hiring practices.

Ethical Communication
It is important for communication that takes place within an organization to be
ethical. Communication itself can be defined as the use of available resources to
convey information, to move, to inspire, to persuade, to enlighten, and to connect. It
involves choice, reflects values, and has consequences. Throughout the entire solution
to the situation at hand, ethical communication is present. As the personnel director, I
provided accurate information about candidates, laws, and hiring processes. I took
actions that reflected my own values and the values in the best interest of the company.
I also worked to persuade and enlighten the president to make ethical decisions through
the relentless ethical communication I had with him.